tl;dr

  • US jobs report
  • Money sent to Iran from US
  • Obama freed prisoners
  • Violence in Europe
  • 2016 Olympics
  • Violence in Philippines

USA

“A report from the Labor Department that said employers added 255,000 jobs in July had been eagerly anticipated…. The official unemployment rate was flat at a relatively low 4.9 percent, largely because of a jump in the number of Americans looking for work and finding it.” (NYT) Yet the labor force participation rate remained at a low of 62.6 percent. This means many Americans are still without a job. Some have given up looking for work entirely – and these people aren’t included in the unemployment rate. “According to the Labor Department, the number of long-term unemployed—defined as those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more— actually rose in July by 41,000, to more than 2 million.” (Fortune) This type of information has led some people to declare that the “real” US unemployment rate is between 30 and 40 percent.

“The U.S. trade deficit increased to the highest point in 10 months, driven up by a big rise in imports of oil and Chinese-made computers, cell phones and clothing. The deficit rose to $44.5 billion in June, 8.7 percent higher than a revised May deficit of $41 billion, the Commerce Department reported Friday. It was the biggest gap between what America sells abroad and what the country imports since a $44.6 billion deficit last August.” (AP)

$400 million in cash was secretly sent to Iran around the same time some prisoners were freed. Some believe it was part of a ransom deal, and president Obama denies this. However: “This has once again raised questions about The Obama Administration’s transparency.” (BI)

Obama commuted sentences for 214 inmates, “the largest single-day batch since at least 1900, according to the White House.” (The Hill) In total he has issued more than 550 commutations during his time in office, including almost 200 inmates serving a life sentence. Many of the commutations were given to nonviolent drug offenders. Many people believe the War On Drugs and mandatory minimum sentences have been failures.

Europe

A man stabbed several people in Russell Square, London, killing one and injuring five. Police believe the incident was random, perhaps triggered by mental health issues. The dead woman was identified as a 64 year old US citizen from Tallahassee.

In southern Belgium (Charleroi) a man attacked two policewomen with a machete. A third police officer shot the assailant – killing him – before he could inflict any fatal injuries. The man is said to have shouted “Allahu akbar” during the assault. It’s not known if he had a connection to ISIS.

Rouen, France, suffered its deadliest fire since 2005. 13 people were killed and 6 were injured after a bar caught fire -apparently in an accident involving stairs and birthday cake.

Brazil

August fifth (Friday) marked the start of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which ends on August twenty-first. Some Brazilians have mixed feelings. The political climate is also far from stable.

“As part of its winning 2009 bid to host the Olympics, Rio promised to treat 80 percent of the pollution, a task requiring enormous, expensive infrastructure improvements. Having completely failed to deliver, Rio opted for emergency measures.” (AFP)

Philippines

“People in the slums of Manila are living in fear after new Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte called on police and vigilantes to kill drug suspects.” (ABC) “The Philippines have killed 400 drug dealers in the past month. Now 500,000 have turned themselves in.” (FP)

“Nida, also called Tropical Storm Carina, hit the Philippines on Saturday pouring up to 287 millimeters (11 inches) of rain over the country’s northern parts.” (CNN)